"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Unless, of course, you're a Christian.
From this source:
(All emphasis mine.)
Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development officials have announced a ban on any decorations in HUD housing complexes that mention Jesus or represent religion for the Christmas season, and the American Family Association has responded with a petition drive to overturn the decision.
(I wonder if they ban Islamic symbols during Ramadan or Eid.)
The AFA has set up a link to allow constituents to send e-mails to the HUD secretary or President Bush expressing their objections to the policy.
The issue arose at the Plant City Living Center in Plant City, Fla., where 85-year-old Mrs. Arnold was told that federal law now prohibits her from displaying anything that references religion – words, decorations and the like – in the common area of her apartment building, a HUD facility.
The grandmother told AFA she was instructed that even an angel decoration would be disallowed by the ban, which makes her think of the restrictions in Germany during World War II.
(And she's old enough to recall first-hand!)
According to the center, HUD has issued a directive banning "any religious symbols or religious words associated with Christmas," which effectively prevents Mrs. Arnold from placing a small Christmas tree outside her door if it contains any religious symbols or words – "even an angel," AFA said in a special alert asking for e-mails.
A spokeswoman at the center who preferred not to give her name told WND the rules now prevent displays "like a manger, like a Christ child, any religious symbols."
"We used to have a sign outside that said, 'Jesus is the reason for the season,' but we can't anymore," she told WND. "We're all very unhappy about that."
(Don't these folks know that winter is the reason for the season? Sheesh.)
The building has about 40 one-bedroom apartments for seniors who are at least 62 years old.
The spokeswoman said she didn't know what would be used for decorations now. "I don't know. We can probably decorate the tree, but we can't put anything on it that symbolizes Christ," she said.
"If the residents want to have a Christmas party in their community room, they cannot call it a Christmas party. The Center says HUD directs residents not to use the word 'Christmas' but to use the word 'holiday,'" the AFA advisory said.
"A Sunday School class from a church near Mrs. Arnold's apartment comes every year to host a Hanging of the Greens and Christmas Party for all the residents. She said the highlight of their Christmas Party comes at the very end of The Hanging of the Greens when someone places the angel on top of their Christmas tree. Their tradition is now banned by the federal government," the AFA said.
(Get your yellow crosses ready, ladies...)
The family group noted the federal government has become increasingly active in banning Christianity from the public square, citing the National Park Service's efforts to conceal the words "Laus Deo," which is Latin for "Praise Be to God" at the Washington Monument, and the move by a Veterans Administration official to ban the script of a flag-folding ceremony that mentions "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" and "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" at 100 national cemeteries.
(God forbid a VETREN'S PRIVATE FUNERAL SERVICE offend anyone.)
However, "both of these were rescinded after AFA supporters sent e-mails to proper authorities," the AFA said. In the case of the Washington Monument dispute, Park Service officials told WND they got 26,000 e-mails in a morning.
Get ready for a highly offensive image:
UPDATE (from AFA):
Plant City Living Center attorney Steve Edelstein issued this statement today:
"I am pleased to report that the Plant City Living Center's recent newsletter regarding holiday decoration policies has been rescinded. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guarantees the rights of citizens to display religious symbols in public. We support that guarantee."
"I want to take this opportunity to reiterate to you and to inform your readers that Plant City Living Center respects the religious beliefs of all of its residents. In furtherance of that policy, Plant City Living Center allows residents to decorate their apartments and the exterior areas of their apartments in any manner they choose. To use your recent Action Alert as an example, this policy allows any resident to place a small Christmas tree outside their door and to decorate their tree in any way they wish. By the way, Plant City's policy also allows angels to be displayed in common areas."
Make no mistake: HUD respects the religious rights of others when they're made to, and for no other reason.